Monday, January 30, 2017

Monkey Monday Toy Review – Walmart Exclusive Kong: Skull Island 18” Mega-Figure from Lanard Toys

By Phantom Troublemaker


I am very excited for Kong: Skull Island.


I was also very excited for new King Kong toys.

You may or may not know this, but I have a few toy collections that aren’t focused around a particular brand or character. One of those collections is a glorious shelf of nothing but monkeys. I suppose it would be more accurate to call it my “Primate Shelf” since it includes gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and all manner of our jungle brethren, but “Monkey Shelf” just sounds so much better. And I am always on the lookout for cool new monkeys – used henceforth as a blanket term for all of the above – to put on my shelf.


Of course, this particular Kong is far too large for my Monkey Shelf, but I gave not a single shit because once I saw him on that Walmart shelf three things occurred to me:

1 – This was one big, gorgeous monkey that dwarfed all of the others in my collection
2 – It was actually a toy and not a fragile articulated statue (more on that later)
3 – It was probably around the right scale to go with the Giant Size Godzilla from JAKKS Pacific (more on that later, too)


Okay, so once I did a little research I discovered that our new Godzilla is 355 feet tall and our new King Kong is 100 feet tall. So this scale is way off. But I’m still happy to have this giant monkey. To be perfectly honest I think that the height disparity is just going to make 2020’s King Kong vs. Godzilla (or Kong v Godzilla: Dawn of Destrucity) all the more interesting. Like Rey Mysterio versus Big Show, except Show has atomic fire breath.

Now let me address the fact that this toy – and the corresponding line – is being made by Lanard Toys.

If you’re a bona fide toy hound you know that Lanard has been producing a military line called The CORPS for over three decades as an economical alternative to pricier military lines like Hasbro’s GI Joe. While the quality of their products might not always be the best on the market, the creativity that goes into the line has always been impressive. And the lower price points have kept The CORPS going strong even as public interest in military lines has waned.

Lanard has several other brands besides The CORPS, but the Skull Island toy line is their first licensed media tie-in (I’m pretty sure). If it were feasible I would love to review the whole range because there’s some very interesting stuff available, but today’s Kong figure is the only thing that I had room for in the budget.


FIRST GLANCE

I dug Peter Jackson’s King Kong quite a bit, but I love that this Kong is so reminiscent of the original design. When I found out that Legendary was making this movie and that they had every intent of it being in the same universe as their 2014 Godzilla (which I also like) I was concerned that we would be getting some kind of XTREME KONG that might barely even resemble a gorilla. Fortunately those fears were unfounded. While this Kong is roughly four times the size of the original (give or take – he ranges from 18 to 50 feet tall depending upon where you get your info from, but is generally thought of as being around 24), he’s still distinctly a simian. But more anthropomorphic than Jackson’s, which is fine because it calls back to the original Kong.

Oh, hey – the toy.

It’s big and impressive. The sculpt looks good and the paint is particularly nice. This is clearly a toy. And that’s good. I thought he was going to be thirty bucks, but he rang up for twenty-five. That’s a steal in my opinion.


PACKAGING

Kong is on a cardboard tray with a cardback. I’m sure there’s a name for this style of packaging, but I don’t know what it is. I like the cut-out graphic of Kong about to punch something.


The back features a blurb about King Kong and pics of the other toys in the line. Overall the box looks great and is indistinguishable from any other company’s licensed goods packaging. I mean that in a good way.

The zip ties holding Kong in place are easy enough to cut through, but the tricky part is a screw that goes through the backing and into the back of the toy. I could not figure out what the heck was keeping me from pulling him off of the card. It was just this tiny thing:


An odd packaging choice, to be sure.


LOOKS

King Kong is a great-looking toy.

The head sculpt isn’t just some gorilla Lanard had laying around. It has character and the distinctive look of a Kong. The mouth has depth to it and the teeth actually protrude rather than just being a hunk of sculpted plastic. They look really nice. The eyes are glossy and painted dead-on. No derp here.


As a matter of fact, the whole figure sports a darn fine paint job. For $25, this could have easily been a much simpler figure, color-wise. But there are washes on the fur, detail on the sculpted – not just painted – scars, and glossier apps for the teeth and eyes. Even the joints enjoy multiple colors to blend them in to the rest of the figure. Hasbro’s Marvel Legends can’t seem to get that right.


The rest of the figure’s sculpt is wonderful. It’s not the most detailed ever, but there’s plenty for me. The hair has just the right amount of sculpting to look good and that wash really enhances the look. Kong’s hands and feet  have much more detail than I expected, with folds and wrinkles helping to create a sense of the scale of this behemoth. Obviously I don't love the huge screw holes in the back, but like it or not that's the level of toy we're looking at.

Most of the figure is a rigid plastic that is sturdier than I thought it would be. But I still wouldn’t put this guy too high up off of the floor. He’s stable, but if he happened to fall off of the shelf, he’d likely explode. I like it a lot, but this is still a mass-market toy. The head, hands, and feet are a softer plastic.


Kong’s right hand is a fist with which to smash things and his left is open so that he can hold the hilariously out-of-scale figure that was included. I like having options.


ACCESSORIES

King Kong comes with the aforementioned  hilariously out-of-scale army man. This is not, as far as I know, any character from Kong: Skull Island. My guess is that it’s an old mold that Lanard threw in because the movie has army guys and what kid isn’t going to want to have army guys for their new giant ape to throw around?

I’m going to call him GI Jed.


GI Jed comes with a rocket launcher and is a pretty bad figure by modern standards. He isn’t even up to par with the current crop of The CORPS products that Lanard is releasing. For a mostly static figure with three points of articulation(!), GI Jed isn’t bad below the neck. The sculpt is solid and he’s got some paint apps that are cleanly applied. I like the weird loop hanging off of his belt even though I have no idea what it’s supposed to be.

His head is awful and I’m already tired of talking about GI Jed, so let’s move on.


GI Jed’s rocket launcher can plug into his back and also sort of be held in either hand. 


It has a decent sculpt and no paint.


GI Jed may be lame, but even if you throw him in the trash (and you will), Kong alone is worth the price.
Also, as far as I know there is a fifteen-foot-tall army man in Skull Island. I haven’t seen it yet so maybe I should just keep my big mouth shut. GI Jed could be amazing.


FUN

King Kong has a swivel neck, swivel/pivot shoulders, double pivot elbows, and swivel wrists and feet. All of the swivels have a bit of leeway in other directions. Not quite like ball joints, but there’s some play.

Bicep swivels would have been nice, but for the most part this Kong can still do what you would want a good Kong toy to do – smash things and beat his chest. And in case you doubt the veracity of the stereotypical gorilla-chest-beating scenario, I have witnessed it in person and it is terrifying, even from fifty feet away. And on the other side of a moat. And a fence.

It doesn’t bother me one bit that his legs aren’t articulated. If they were, there’s every likelihood that ten – or less – years from now this figure wouldn’t be able to stand up because the hip joints had gotten too loose. We’ve all seen much smaller figures that this has happened to. I’d like for my Kong to stand tall for decades.

A sound chip would have put King Kong over the top, but also would have jacked the price up. Your mileage may vary, but I gotta say I would’ve paid ten bucks more for a couple of Kong noises. Keep in mind – I thought I was paying thirty for it at first anyway. So electronic Kong for five bucks more would have been a deal.


OVERALL

If you’re a fan of monsters or King Kong or monkey toys or just big, fun toys this King Kong is a must-have. Twenty-five bucks is an absolute steal for such a nicely done, huge hunk of plastic monkey. I would have gladly paid more for an electronic version, but as-is this toy is truly worthy of the title “King”.

5 out of 5

I am delighted that a company like Lanard got the Skull Island toy license. You guys know that I love NECA, but their Pacific Rim figures were never what I wanted (which is why I sold them). They looked great but were fragile, had wonky – though plentiful – articulation, and were friggin’ dangerous. Pacific Rim should have had a toy line. Giant robots and monsters should be able to fight each other. They should be sturdy and huge and shoot missiles and fists and stuff. I honestly hope that Lanard’s Kong line is a crashing success and that Legendary continues to work with them for Kong vs. Godzilla and maybe even Pacific Rim 2.

That’s not to say I hope NECA loses the license. There’s no reason there can’t be two lines – gorgeous, fragile figures that don’t stand up for adult collectors and actual toys for kids and grown-up kids.

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